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Rebounding remains key issue for Hawkeyes

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | DECEMBER 04, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s basketball team will have its work cut out tonight. A team that has struggled mightily rebounding both defensively and offensively so far this season will try to right the ship against No. 7 Louisville, which is one of the toughest and most defensively sound squads in the country.

It’s a problem that cost the team its first loss of the season against Arkansas last weekend. 

Head coach Lisa Bluder has made it paramount in her team’s mind not let it cost the Hawkeyes again.

“Everybody knows it’s a weakness right now for us, so we’ve got to continue to work on it hard in practice and be conscious of it,” Bluder said. “We need to make a change. It’s not a technique issue, it’s really just being more aggressive.”

The Hawks, who have not been on the positive side of the rebound margin once this season, will look to break that trend against a Cardinal squad that ranks near the top 30 nationally.

And while the Hawkeyes have taken measures to improve upon their efforts on the boards in practice, Bluder knows that for a change to occur this time around, her players will need to match the aggression and intensity of Louisville if they want to stand a chance.

“I hope the game against Arkansas was a little bit of a wake-up call for us,” Bluder said. “It was very physical, and I think it kind of caught us off guard at the time, so I think it should be interesting to see how we respond.”

One thing is certain, the Black and Gold will need to squeeze everything they can out of senior Beth Doolittle.

The 6-4 center averages close to 7 boards a game and is one of Iowa’s best natural rebounders. Her size and strength make her a physical force that can be hard for opposing defenses to shut down.

Foul trouble limited her floor time in the loss to Arkansas, leaving freshman Chase Coley to pick up much of the slack. The Hawks will look to her for leadership down low against Louisville.

“Coach kind of got on us a little bit after the game against Arkansas,” Doolittle said.  “Thought we came out a little bit better against Gonzaga, but there’s still obviously a lot of work that needs to be done, so hopefully we can take that step against Louisville.”

Doolittle, now in her fourth and final season with the Hawkeyes, knows that the Cardinals present an interesting measuring stick for the Black and Gold.

“They rebound really well, and the game is a huge confidence and momentum factor for us going into the rest of our preseason,” Doolittle said. “We played them last year and got a little taste of what they’re like, so hopefully we can use that.”

Bluder and the Hawkeyes will have a pretty good idea of how they stack up against other ranked opponents after the game.

Just because this game is going to be a challenge, Iowa isn’t shying away from anyone.

“You want to prove yourself against the best competition, and that’s what we have a chance to do Thursday,” sophomore Allie Disterhoft said. 

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s-basketball team.


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